Madeleine – dish of the day – MG

I am currently building up a phone mast map of all the ‘ping’ locations that exist in the PJ files re Madeleine’s disappearance. I believe this is necessary to progress the case but, to be honest, this defines boring. Therefore it falls upon me to see if I can dress up this exercise as something a bit more exciting.

The phone-mast contact in question here was by Fiona Payne. Fiona was the only one of the Tapas 9 who did not use her own mobile at the time of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance. This contact came from a little while later on a return to Portugal. That little conundrum has nothing to do with this post, so I will move on swiftly to simply looking at the contact.

The contact was made in Mexilhoeira Grande. This is just to the east of Odiáxere. Hardened veterans of the Madeleine McCann story will know that Odiáxere is where the GNR car was when the phone call to the police said a girl was missing. So we are in a fairly pertinent location.

Without trying to send you to sleep, here is how to find the phone masts relevant to Madeleine’s disappearance.

Step 1. A mention of the phone mast in the PJ files is a distinct help. This gives the general area. In today’s case, the mast is named as Mexilhoeira Grande, which gives a rough starting area.

Step 2. Google Streetview. If the area is hilly, the chances are the mast is on top of a large hill. If the area is flat, the chances are the mast is stuck on top of something man-made that is high.

Mexilhoeira Grande is flat, in Algarve terms, so the mast should be on something tall that built by man. Google Streetview shows the water tower for Mexilhoeira Grande is a tall structure on the north of the town. A quick squizz shows it is also the local telecoms tower.

So that was quite easy and painless, but what does it tell us?

The radius on which a mast operates is of the order of 1.5 to 2 miles. That’s how big a cell is in a cellphone network. That is the limit to how much narrowing down we can do if a mast and phone are talking to each other.

Forget triangulation re the Madeleine McCann case. It is true that one can triangulate (in a way) using phone mast data, but to do so requires the control information. That is when nearby masts are working out which mast is best positioned to take over a call. This control information does not exist in the files for the Madeleine McCann case. What we have is traffic – calls and texts – but no control information.

So, what can we tell from the fact that Fiona Payne’s mobile made contact with the Mexilhoeira Grande mast?

On that single contact alone, the intelligence we can gather is depressingly little.

Here is a graphic that has the precise location of the Mexilhoeira Grande contact for Fiona Payne. I have picked an arbitrary radius of 2 miles, and located it out to the airstrip to the south-east.

Mexilhoeira Grande 2mls

To be honest, I would guess that there is a different mast talking to the airport, but I simply want to illustrate a difficulty that faced the PJ in 2007, and one that faces Scotland Yard now. Where was Fiona Payne’s phone when this phone-mast contact was made?

Mexilhoeira Grande 2mls map

She could have been at the airport. Or the hotel and golf resort of Penina, to the east. She could have been watching football at the footie ground in Mexilhoeira Grande, or visiting the neighbouring villages of Várzea do Farelo, Corta Ventos, Esteveira, or Fontainhas.

Depending on the transmitter range, she might have been as far away as Arão, Eira Velhas, Descampadinho, or Vale de Lama. I happen to doubt these possibilities, but that is only because I have already located a phone mast in Odiáxere, and that seems to be closer.

Now here’s what the PJ faced then and what SY now are facing. What was happening here? Joining up the data, Fiona seems to have been in the eastern Algarve earlier on the same day, oddly enough around a place called Luz near Tavira. This phone contact seems to have been on the journey back from that trip to base at Luz, Lagos in the western Algarve.

But here is the rub. I cannot tell from the pattern if this was actually the case. Fiona could have stopped (in one of the many locations above) or she could have been travelling. She could have been on the old, slow road (N125) to the south of the map, or the new, fast road (A22) to the north. For speed, the A22 made sense, but for scenic value the N125 was much better.

When the media pops up that SY can triangulate people to in and around 5A, please feel free to have a laugh. I cannot tell from the data whether Fiona Payne was on the A22, the N125, or had stopped off for a comfort break.

Just as no-one looking at the phone date for 3rd May 2007 can locate a phone contact in Luz to more accurately than the radius covered by Luz comms tower, which happens to be most of Luz, part or all of Espiche, and chunks of the N125.


6 thoughts on “Madeleine – dish of the day – MG

  1. This is incredibly boring, you are right. And what’s the point of any of it? So what if FP made a phonecall, for example? When? Who cares from where? Why is that in any way relevant?

    • I don’t care whether Fiona made a call or not. Or Robert made a call or not.

      Possibly Gerry making a call, or not, may be relevant, but I doubt it.

      Here is the task facing SY, and this task is critical.

      All they have to do to crack this case is find someone whose phone records show them active in and around Luz on 3 May 2007, and whose phone records do not fit a typical user’s pattern.

      I consider this tough, but do-able assuming – SY has widespread data for phone calls around 3 May 2007 for multiple phone masts in Luz and surrounding areas at the time. I have reason to believe they do.

      Then they need to understand what was going on re 3rd of May, excluding Madeleine’s disappearance, which I reckon they are ignorant of. Then they need to know how the actual phone data relates to activity on the ground in real life, and I’m pretty sure they are ignorant of this.

      Basically, I believe SY are sitting on the solution to the case, but they don’t know how to use the info to solve it.

      Gerry’s records throw up a mast I have not yet found. It is called Lagos Norte aka Lagos Hotel. Is this in any way important? The answer is I don’t know.

      What I do know is that neither of the 2 masts I have found in Lagos sits on a hotel or can be described as North Lagos, so there appears to be a 3rd mast somewhere in Lagos. In the north, on or near a hotel.

      Now I understand the layout of Lagos, why SY probably doesn’t. To the north of the marina, and out to the east on Meia Praia there are both hotels and an area of phone coverage that is not well served by my map.

      Nope, I can’t find Lagos Norte, thus far.

      If Madeleine got scooped up, the phone records showed someone leaving Luz at that time, heading to Lagos marina, then disappearing from phone traffic, would you be interested?

      SY has the records. Perhaps they have a decent map already. After the Luz 2014 dig, I am assuming that they don’t. So if I can develop a map, could it be used by SY to be a step closer to the answer?

      • Not sure how you can hope to crack that with partial information, when two busloads of SY officers working fulltime on it failed to do so with complete information.

        I’m interested in RM’s phone call to SM. Both now officially beyond investigation, but that’s yet to be explained, and is incredibly suspicious, especially after they tried to deny it and defined their relationship as ‘professional’.

        So, you’re saying you could get a ping on a mast circa 2200 by G5A, and a separate ping an hour later putting the person in the marina because it would ping a different tower? Only if the phone was used for a call or SMS, though… Could you possibly find something like that with the information you have available?

        I never really gave much thought to the marina… all boats seemed accounted for, and some of the worst conspiracies centred around it. But, if Smithman were the culprit, it would make the no-car, travelling via the streets and in that direction make a little sense, I suppose, hypothetically.

        And in one of the last pieces I read about the case, the summing up of ‘what we have learned’ from OG was apparently the certainty Smithman was the guilty party. News to me, now… Damn hacks.

        If we did know that, it would be a huge step… he remains my main suspect, but so, so far away from a certainty.

      • I don’t believe there is enough evidence in the public domain for any of the public to solve the case.

        I believe there is sufficient evidence in the public domain to progress the case significantly By significantly, I mean well beyond what most people, whether media, authors or police, have revealed so far.

        Whether SY have sufficient information to crack the case is something I don’t know. For example, if there was a planned abduction and the perp kept his phone off throughout the operation, then the phone data will not help to track him.

        So why bother?

        What I am seeing is a massive disconnect between SY and the incident scene. That was amply illustrated by the mid-2014 dig in central Luz. Essentially, they are playing armchair detectives in London, when they should have some officers on the ground getting acquainted with Luz, hot it works and how it worked then. Ditto the area around Luz, extending as far as they have detailed phone data.

        If you don’t know Luz and its environs first hand, then much of the information is meaningless gibberish. The diagram I constructed of places of activity on the evening of 3rd May is an example. Many a forum and interested parties are of the view that Luz was nearly deserted. The evidence paints a different picture. I doubt that SY was able to get past the ‘Luz was closed’ syndrome, to building up an accurate picture of the activity.

        So let’s go to the phone records. If SY has files from each of the 3 phone operators giving names and precise co-ordinates of each mast in the region, then I am doing a lot of work that has no benefit to them. However, at least one person with an interest in the case has found the phone maps produced so far to be interesting.

        If SY does not have files of the relevant mast locations, they will have by the time I’m finished. At each stage when I get a step forward, I mail the info to OG. Whether they use it or think it is a waste of time is something I don’t know.

        Have a look at your Express article and it is still banging on about Smithman heading towards the sea, when there is no evidence of this, and it looks like that is inaccurate and misleading. Once ‘towards the sea’ gets ingrained, it is hard to see past it.

        RM/SM. As per the Tapas 9, I’m not interested in trying to do activity analysis, as the PJ reported on McCann movements. I’m simply interested in building up the phone maps using local knowledge of towns, cities and hills. The example in which the PJ located a mast near the junction of the A22/N125 springs to mind. That must be an error due to incorrect coordinates fed into the mapping software. As to whether such an error makes a difference to SY, I cannot say.

      • I found the origin of ‘towards the sea’, by the way, and it long predates Amaral’s libellous tome. As Smithman appeared in the public domain, that was there from the start.

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